Does 50/50 equal no child support? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 06-07-2009, 03:25 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been a SAHM for years. Wanting to get out. STBX used to completely suck at parenting, until I asked for a divorce and then became a nice faux SuperDad when I am around or when he can do a photo op moment, but not when I'm not according to my kids at least. I'm very glad to see him finally care and be involved. But in the past I knew and hour or two was his limit with them.

He's very very money conscious - calls himself a scrooge. He can afford child support but doesn't know it (he'd have to make a few changes but certainly wouldn't financially cripple him). He talks a lot about the money. It's a huge fear of his he'll get 'screwed' like some friend of his did in a divorce who has to pay a lot of child support and says he's destitute because of it.

Soooo... he wants 50/50 custody. Do courts force 50/50? (preschool aged kids). Does 50/50 mean he won't have to pay child support? If I can get the amount that my state allows for his income level, I can cover modest housing and utilities, which would be really great - means I can babysit or work part time when he has them to cover the rest of what I need. If I don't get child support, then I'm stuck here until I find a fabulous high paying job because this is an expensive area and I can't move far away due to what lawyers have said about that looking like I'm trying to keep the kids from him.
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#2 of 7 Old 06-07-2009, 04:00 PM
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Where I live (MN), there are guidelines and what they do is try to keep the child in equitable households. So, I am going for sole custody, and my STBX wants 50/50. The decision is not at all financially driven for me, but it is for him. The MN guidelines, and our respective incomes, reflect that I am responsible for 63% of our son's care, and Chris is responsible for 37%, based on the last 2 years' incomes. So he knows that if he gets joint custody, not only will he NOT have to pay support, but it is entirely likely that I have to pay him, in order to get the balance the state looks for.

If your state is the same, and they look for equity among the households, they will look at your past earning history and his. They also consider earning potential. For example, my STBX has been a construction worker for 10 years, and made pretty good money. Well, this spring, because I had filed for divorce, he has gone to a job paying six dollars LESS an hour than he had been making, and is now saying he can't afford to pay support. But the court is looking at the last 2 years, and his earning potential, and he will have to find a way to make more money.

Anyway, hope that helps.
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#3 of 7 Old 06-07-2009, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
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So will the court base it on the income amount before the divorce? Right now I make less than 10% of the house income including babysitting, etc. If a SAHM goes back to work and makes the same as the EX will she then pay no child support/ he gets none (in 50/50)? What if I make a billion dollars in 2 years - can he then go for child support in the amount of $500m basically?
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#4 of 7 Old 06-07-2009, 05:59 PM
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SO much depends on what state you're in. In Texas, the standard child support is computed based on a percentage of the father's income (30% for three kids like we have). My income doesn't play into it at all. I've been told that in Indiana, an increase in the mother's income means a decrease in child support, which I find abhorrent (were the couple still married, an increase in the mother's income would mean a raised standard of living for the family as a whole; it should IMO be the same after a divorce).

Now, we need to define a couple of terms here. And again, this is going to vary state-by-state. The standard here is joint legal custody. This means that both parents have equal say over issues like education, religion, & medical care when the children are in their possession. However, one parent--typically the mother, although the technical legal criterion is 'best interests of the child', will also have primary physical custody, along with the sole right to determine the children's residence. Along with this, you usually have the standard visitation order, which is the 1st, 3rd, & 5th (if applicable) weekend of the month, as well as one weekday evening, a month during the summer, & alternating holidays. This is what the court defaults to without a good reason (or agreement) to do otherwise.

Now, 50/50 custody of course is the children living with each parent literally half the time. There's no primary physical custody here. Kids are typically switched over every week or two, or every month. I don't know anyone here (in TX) who has that. It's generally something both parents have to agree to. I don't know how it is in other states though. I think, however, it's unusual enough that no judge is likely to force it. You can make an excellent argument that it would not be in the kids' best interests, especially if they are very young.

Child support in a 50/50 custody arrangement is usually lowered here, but not eliminated. In fact, my ex's lawyer shot him in the foot with that issue in mediation. The twit linked the desire for joint physical custody (the 50/50 thing) with paying less than the state guidelines of child support! So no matter how it was meant, he made my ex look like a greedy b-----d.

Again, though, it's something that varies WIDELY by state. I cannot emphasize that enough. I understand the desire to be anonymous, but it would really help if you shared your state, because there's a good chance someone here is where you are and can give you an accurate answer.

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#5 of 7 Old 06-07-2009, 06:21 PM
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Joint custody is not the same as 50/50 parenting time. Theoretically, with 50/50 parenting time, each parent pays for the child while they have them and there is no reason for child support. In practice though, there can be situations where child support is called for. For example, I have some friends who have 50/50 custody. The children live one week with mom and one week with Dad. For the first year, there was no child support. However, the children are in private school (agreement of both parents) and the mom was paying the full tuition (she works at the school so it was deducted from her pay). She was also the primary one to take the kids to doctor and pay their medical expenses. She was also the one buying all of their clothes, etc. Basically, Dad fed them while they were with him and that was the extent of it. After a year, she approached him with receipts and documentation and told him he either needed to start doing 50% of the expensive stuff or he could pay her child support each month. He agreed to pay her child support and let her have the responsibility of all the extras.

Here in GA, child support is calculated based on "income shares" but if the non-custodial parent has the children more than 40% of the time, he can get a "parenting time reduction" on the child support.

It does vary from state to state and honestly, from judge to judge depending on the mood that day. Your best bet is to try to work something out between the two of you or go for mediation. In mediation, you have a neutral 3rd party who will try to help you come to an agreement (read: pressure you in some cases) but you don't *have* to agree to anything you don't want. If you go in front of a judge, you won't have any choice.

My suggestion to you is the same as I've made to others. I know you want to be a SAHM, but if you want out of the marriage (or have no choice but to get out of it), you need to get a stable job. Child support can be a great help when it's paid, but you cannot count it as a part of your budget. You simply cannot depend on another person that way. If your ex decides not to pay this month because he's mad at you or because his car broke down and he had to pay for repairs or because he wants to go on vacation with his girlfriend or because he lost his job, you still have to pay the rent, utilities, groceries, etc.? He has to be a certain amount behind before Child Support Enforcement will even look at him and then it may take months for them to get any money to you. If you're talking about living with family where you'll have relatively low living expenses, maybe you can work it out. If you want to get your own place, you need to make sure that you can afford it on your own. Sorry that's not what you want to hear.

Good luck to you.
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#6 of 7 Old 06-07-2009, 07:30 PM
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In a 50/50 physical custody, child support is typically lower or non-existent. This all depends on how much more money he makes than you. If it is similar, then chances are there will be no child support (with the exception of the other parent paying their share of the children's health insurance). Medical costs beyond what is covered by insurance would get split.

On the flip side, he will have to have a complete wardrobe at his house (it is silly to have to pack up your stuff half the time), a room for each child as if they lived there full-time and pay for childcare on his time.

You would only be responsible for when the kids are with you.
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#7 of 7 Old 06-08-2009, 01:11 AM
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Here in WI, 50/50 still ends up with some child support being paid unless the parents' incomes are equal or nearly so.

For situations in which both parents have the kids more than 25% of the time, formula takes both parents' income (actual or imputed) and the percentage of overnights spent in each house into consideration. You can try it here at (For EOW-type situations, the formula ignores the primary custodian's income.)

In fact, in, say, a 65-35 situation, the person with the kids 65 percent of the time could still end up paying CS, if he or she makes significantly more income than the parent with 35 percent.

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